As a program of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 1 Million Cups helps communities nurture entrepreneurs to empower them for success through engagement, networking, and mentorship.

MIAMI – Local community leaders and business representatives gathered for a rise-and-shine meeting of the minds May 16 with the second gathering of the newly launched Ottawa County chapter of 1 Million Cups.

As a program of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 1 Million Cups works with entrepreneurs to empower them for success through community engagement, networking, and mentorship. A nationwide initiative, there are currently meetings held in over 180 communities across the country.

The Miami chapter had its launch April 18, 2018, and was implemented in Ottawa County through the Northeast Tech Afton Business Development Department in conjunction with local business partners and the Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Farm-to-table was the overarching theme of Wednesday's meeting with presentations from multi-thronged entrepreneur Kelda Lorax, co-owner of Stardust Market Garden and Kalyn Grokett with Miller Pecan Company based in Afton. Each was allotted just under ten minuted to present a brief overview of their businesses, and current struggles and goals before asking and answering questions and taking in feedback from attendees.

Coffee for the gathering was provided by the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, which supplied their own gourmet O-Gah-Pah Coffee, a product of the tribe's very successful, and nationally recognized farm-to-table agriculture operations.

Lorax presented first, introducing the interlinking businesses and endeavors she runs with her husband Nick out of Fairland, which are comprised of the Divine Earth Gardening Project, Stardust Market Garden, and the Fairland Farmers Market.

Passionate about conservation and sustainable habitats, Lorax explained that through Divine Earth Gardening she designs, teaches and helps implement sustainable gardens utilizing permaculture and supportive practices such as greywater systems, solar energy, sustainable livestock, medicinal herbs and more.

"It's all about how people can relate to a specific piece of land and do so in the best possible way for the planet," said Lorax.

That work branches into their family run farm/garden Stardust Market Garden, that in turn, serves the Fairland Farmers Market which was launched three years ago and continues to be coordinated on a volunteer basis by the Loraxes featuring only vendors providing locally produced goods.

To learn more about the Divine Earth Gardening Project, Stardust Market Garden, and the Fairland Farmers Market email divineearthgp@gmail.com, fairlandfarmersmarket@gmail.com or call 918-676-1040.

The Fairland Farmers Market season is currently underway with the market open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. between Family Dollar and Mr. D's at ~50 N. Pine St. in Fairland.

Grokett, the Brand Manager for Miller Pecan Company, next shared the local producer/distributor's current business interests, tree-to-table approach to high-quality pecan harvesting, and goals for engaging a broader consumer base.

At the heart of the business are brothers Justin and Jared Miller who began growing and harvesting pecans in the mid-1980s with their father and have since expanded the company into pecan processing and now international supply.

Miller Pecan is one of the only producers in the U.S. to handle their pecans from planting, grafting and harvesting to cleaning, shelling and marketing.

"We have a very unique perspective when we're talking to our customers and being able to educate them on exactly what goes into their pecan production," said Grokett. "With that, that enables us to deliver an unforgettable and consistent product to our customers every single time because we hand manage every single phase of the production process." 

To learn more about Miller Pecan Company, visit https://www.millerpecancompany.com, visit the store at 21853 S. Hwy. 69, Afton, call 918-257-6887 or email info@millerpecancompany.com.

1 Million Cups meetings are recurring the third Wednesday of every month at the MRCC headquarters, 11 S. Main in Miami, at 8:30 a.m. The next meeting will be June 20.

For information about 1 Million Cups contact Shannon Epperson with MRCC at sepperson@miami-ok.org.